Pierna mechada (Mexican roast pork leg)

Pierna mechada (Mexican roast pork leg)
  • Serves icon Serves 6-8
  • Time icon Hands-on time 40 min, plus overnight marinating. Oven time 2 hours 5 min

This flavour-packed Mexican roast pork leg with adobo is enjoyed at Christmas, says chef Adriana Cavita. Here, she shares her recipe.

Adriana says: “In Mexico, Navidad (Christmas) is celebrated with a big dinner at home. This pork dish is super popular during Christmas celebrations – my aunt used to cook it most years and we always loved it. It requires a bit of attention and time, but I’m sure your family will enjoy it very much.”

Adriana Cavita grew up in a village near Mexico City. She opened Cavita, a Mexican restaurant, in London’s Marylebone in May 2022.

Nutrition: Per serving (for 8)

Calories
573kcals
Fat
41g (15g saturated)
Protein
44g
Carbohydrates
6.2g (5.7g sugars)
Fibre
1g
Salt
4.7g
Calories
573kcals
Fat
41g (15g saturated)
Protein
44g
Carbohydrates
6.2g (5.7g sugars)
Fibre
1g
Salt
4.7g

Ingredients

  • 2.5kg pork leg, skinless and bone-in
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 3 tbsp sea salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 175ml orange juice
  • 175ml white wine
  • 25g toasted almonds
  • 10 pitted prunes, halved
  • 3 streaky bacon rashers, cut into 2cm slices
  • Thyme sprigs to decorate (optional)

For the adobo

  • 6 guajillo chillies, deseeded (see Know-how)
  • 1 ancho chilli, deseeded
  • 4 morita chillies, deseeded
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • Pinch cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp Mexican oregano (sold dried – see Know-how)
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 2 pinches dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar

Specialist kit

  • Butcher’s string

Method

  1. Use a small sharp knife to cut holes/slits all over the pork leg – aim for holes roughly 5cm deep and around 5cm apart. If the meat is already trussed with butcher’s string, leave it on as it’ll save you a job later. Put the peppercorns, salt and garlic in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and crush into a paste. Use your fingers to push a little of the paste into each hole.
  2. Put the flavoured pork leg in a large resealable plastic bag, then pour in the orange juice and white wine. Seal and give it a good shake, then leave it in the fridge overnight, giving it a shake and turning the bag over every hour or so (while you’re awake, obviously).
  3. The next day, make the adobo sauce. Put the 3 types of dried chilli in a large heatproof bowl and cover with 1 litre hot water, then set aside for 10 minutes to rehydrate. Put the rest of the adobo ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times to combine, then add the soaked chillies (without the liquid) and whizz, scraping down the sides as needed, and adding enough chilli-soaking liquid (about 600-750ml) to create a purée-like texture.
  4. Take the pork leg out of the bag, pat it dry and put it on a chopping board. Heat the oven to 200°C fan/gas 7. Take the toasted almonds, prunes and bacon and start stuffing them into the holes in the pork – aim to get a piece of each in every hole if possible. Tie about 6 loops of butcher’s string around the meat to keep it in shape (if the meat isn’t already trussed), then transfer it to a deep roasting tray. Pour over the adobo sauce, then cover the tray tightly with foil.
  5. Roast the pork in the oven for 50 minutes, then turn the heat down to 180°C fan/gas 6 and roast for 1 hour 15 minutes more (or 30 minutes per kg, if your pork leg is slightly larger or smaller). Set aside to rest for 10 minutes before decorating with thyme sprigs, slicing and serving with the adobo sauce from the tray.

delicious. tips

  1. You can get all the specific Mexican chillies and Mexican oregano at mexgrocer.co.uk. Guajillo is a dried mirasol chilli. Ancho is a dried poblano. Morita is a dried jalapeño, like a chipotle but softer and more fruity.

Recipe By

Adriana Cavita

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